Price survey: Any way you slice it, Thanksgiving meal is a real deal

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WASHINGTON – Menu items for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings will cost more this year, but remain affordable, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
According to the bureau’s 22nd annual informal survey of the prices of basic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, the average cost of this year’s dinner for 10 is $42.26, a $4.16 price increase from last year’s average of $38.10.
The survey shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.
Turkey prices. The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $17.63 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects an increase of 12 cents per pound, or a total of $1.93 per turkey compared to 2006. This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2007 Thanksgiving dinner.
“The inventory of birds in cold storage is relatively small this year. This has helped drive up the average retail turkey price,” said Jim Sartwelle, an American Farm Bureau Federation economist.
“The tremendous increase in energy costs for transportation and processing over the past year also is a key factor behind higher retail prices at the grocery store.”
Other items showing a price increase this year included: a gallon of whole milk, $3.88; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.13; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.08; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.08; a 12-ounce package of brown-n-serve rolls, $1.89; a half-pint of whipping cream, $1.56; and a 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, $2.20.
A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased in price by 66 cents to $3.29.
Decreases. Items that decreased slightly in price this year were: a 14-ounce package of cube stuffing, $2.40; and a relish tray of carrots and celery, 66 cents. A pound of green peas remained the same in price at $1.46.
Sartwelle said on average, American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years, particularly when you adjust for inflation. The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $20 for the past 17 years.
The American Farm Bureau Federation survey was first conducted in 1986. This year’s average cost of $42.26 is equivalent to $20.46 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The real dollar cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has declined 9 percent in the last 20 years, according to Sartwelle.

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